Lock & Load Image

Lock & Load

By Bobby LePire | October 24, 2023

Lock & Load is a passion project for Nathan Shepka, who stars, wrote, directed, produced, and edited the film. The Scottish actioner follows Shepka’s private security officer, Nick, and his partner, Derek (Colin McDougall). In the 11-minute prologue, the two are sent in to take out a whole bevy of people. Nick and Derek shoot, creep up on, and otherwise take down the baddies, all while having comical banter.

The bulk of the plot concerns the search for Andy (Graeme MacPherson). The agent’s wife calls the two and explains that he’s missing. While they don’t know where he is, Nick and Derek believe it has something to do with arms dealer Miles Steiger (Tony Macdonald). Miles, alongside “Chess Master” (Laura MacDougall), is planning something big, and agent Andy got wind of it. Now, Nick and Derek must uncover the clues, which involve lots of gun fights, hand-to-hand combat, and explosions. Oh, also, double-crosses are on the menu.

The best thing about Lock & Load is that it is a sequel, and yet it works without any knowledge of the first movie, Holiday Monday. The relationships between the characters are quickly established and are developed well. The danger Miles and his evil partner present is credible, adding to the stakes the heroes are up against.

“…Nick and Derek believe it has something to do with arms dealer Miles Steiger…”

Happily, there are loads of other elements here that add up to the flick being a total blast. For starters, the action is really well staged. Whatever the budget Shepka had at his disposal, he uses it well. The explosions look great, and the firefights are exciting. But the punches and kicks really steal the show. All the actors appear to do their own stunts, which enhances the engagement, especially during the climax.

Also helping Lock & Load be a notch above the rest is the cast. Shepka knows his strengths and delivers a strong performance. His chemistry with McDougall is excellent, and the two come across as real friends who look after each other in the face of danger. For his part, McDougall brings a dry wit that adds levity. MacPherson takes his well-written part and brings a lot of menace. Laura McDougall’s zingers are said with a self-pleasing grin that works for the character.

Unfortunately, there are a few flaws. There’s a scene with the wives of Derek and Nick about a meeting place being changed that is superfluous. A few of the one-liners are more groan-inducing than chuckle-worthy, though not many overall. Plus, the score is about as generic as it can be.

Even though Lock & Load suffers from a few minor issues, it still kicks a*s. The actors are great, and the plot has enough twists and turns to be engaging. The stunts and action sequences are thrilling on every level, rivaling and even besting big studio fare much of the time. Even though it is a sequel, Shepka’s picture works on its own and is just awesome.

Lock & Load (2023)

Directed and Written: Nathan Shepka

Starring: Nathan Shepka, Colin McDougall, Graeme MacPherson, Tony Macdonald, Laura MacDougall, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Lock & Load Image

"…a notch above the rest..."

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